The choice between buying separate audio and video components or a PC-based home media centre for home entertainment can be a complex one.
The advent of networked digital media servers and universal plug and play (UPnP) may simplify systems for those installing high-end multi-room audio and video. However, budget systems can get quite complicated due to constant firmware upgrades, system lock-ups and spotty wi-fi video performance, so ‘buyer beware’ still strongly applies to this sector.
Importantly, there are emerging standards for connecting all types of domestic and mobile media devices, such as those specified by the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) alliance of major companies. This will ensure that plug and play Internet Protocol (IP) remains at the core of network media servers and players for the conceivable future, while at the same time meeting stringent energy efficiency standards.
All these emerging standards aim to efficiently converge home, car and pocket devices, using compact and flexible cross-platform media formats such as MP4 AVC video and MP4 AAC audio.